by Julie A. Ferraro
ATCHISON — After being delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, a very special Eucharistic celebration was held at St. Scholastica Chapel at Mount St. Scholastica here on May 15.
Perpetual profession of vows as a Benedictine for Sister Jennifer Halling was originally scheduled for September 2021. In order for Sister Jennifer’s family to attend, the liturgy has been postponed.
Abbot James Albers of St. Benedict’s Abbey, Atchison presided over the mass. Sister Esther Fangman, prioress of Mount St. Scholastica, accepted Sister Jennifer’s vows on behalf of the community. More than six dozen sisters in attendance welcomed Sister Jennifer with promises of support in her calling and special blessings.
Also during the ceremony, Sister Jennifer received a gold ring with the initials “IHS” – a Greek inscription for the name of Jesus – blessed by the Abbot and slipped onto the third finger of her left hand by Sister Esther as symbol of her union with Christ.
Sister Jennifer entered Mount St. Scholastica in 2016. She took her first vows – stability, fidelity to the monastic way of life and obedience – as a Benedictine in 2018.
Daughter of the late Luke A. Halling and the late Dolores (Will), Sister Jennifer grew up in Leavenworth, graduating from Immaculata High School. She received a bachelor’s degree from Benedictine College, Atchison, and a master’s degree in pastoral counseling from Loyola College in Baltimore. She worked as a manuscript editor for a medical publishing house and as a freelance editor before entering religious life. She also served on the staff of the Shantivanam House of Prayer, Easton, and volunteered at the Catholic Worker House in St. Louis, as well as being active in social justice issues and prison ministry.
In the monastic community, Sister Jennifer serves as editor of Mount St. Scholastica’s biannual magazine, Threshold, as well as Benedictines, a journal that is also published twice a year. She writes “The Monastic Call” (https://themonasticcall.blogspot.com), a blog, and is director of the Atchison Oblates, lay people who join the monastery following the rule of St. Benedict.
“Being a Benedictine sister is an integral part of my life and ministry because it helps my work become a prayer,” Sister Jennifer said. “My life as a Benedictine sister, focused on community prayer and community, increases my awareness of God’s presence no matter what I do.”
Sister Jennifer’s family has a rich history with Mount St. Scholastica. Local history records that the Hallings were among those who welcomed and protected the first Benedictine Sisters when they arrived in Atchison in 1863. As a nod to these ancestors who watched over the Sisters at night, lanterns were were used as decorations in the chapel and for the reception, which followed the mass in the dining room of the monastery, bringing together family, friends and guests of Sister Jennifer.
Sister Jennifer will be pursuing certification as a spiritual director through the Souljourners program offered by the Sophia Spirituality Center at Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison. She looks forward to continued spiritual growth as a Benedictine, seeing her ministry in the community as a source of strength.
“It helps me stay centered and provides me with the structure and support I need to effectively share my gifts and talents with others,” she said.